2018 Enlightener & Deceiver Awards

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Fråga Lund

The Swedish Skeptics have announced their annual awards for 2018.

The Enlightener of the Year award is given to the pop-sci TV show Fråga Lund. The show answers viewers’ questions about science and research in an accessible way by recruiting scientists and other experts in various fields. Through its format that mixes facts and playfulness the programme attracts a different – and far larger – viewership than the purely fact-based science programming that Swedish public service TV also offers.

The Deceiver of the Year anti-award goes to the writer and speaker Thomas Erikson for his best-selling amateur psychology books and lecture events where he touts simplistic personality tests without basis in real psychological research. Erikson was soundly taken down at feature length in the long-read magazine Filter already last summer.

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One thought on “2018 Enlightener & Deceiver Awards

  1. There seem to be lots of people who put unjustified faith in simplistic personality tests with no basis in actual psychological research.

    I don’t know if this is mentioned in the link, but the Wikipedia page for one of the most common personality tests, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), is firmly in this category. Neither Ms. Myers nor Ms. Briggs (the former was the latter’s daughter) had any training in psychology and were entirely self-taught in psychometrics. Their ideas were based on those of Carl Jung, who also had scant scientific evidence for his ideas. The MBTI sorts people in four binary categories, but the actual distribution of scores is normal (Gaussian) rather than bimodal, so people just on one side of a border get classified in the same way as people at one of the extremes. The MBTI also depends on self-reporting. Yet many US businesses have used it as a predictor of employee performance.

    Taking down bad psychology research is rather like shooting fish in a barrel. As John has repeatedly noted, reproducibility is poor, and much of what does get published is based on p-values that reach an arbitrary threshold of significance (in fairness, it is hard in a field like psychology to do better than that, as it is hard to get enough subjects for the statistics to be robust). But it is easy for unscrupulous types like Mr. Erikson to profit handsomely from bad psychology research.

    Liked by 1 person

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